Living amongst and around poor people and hearing and knowing people living in poverty to the level that we sometimes see it here is difficult. I went through a time of wrestling with God for a few months as I grappled with the amount of poverty I was seeing around me. I’ve had a good life in general, but I did move to a poor, red light district in the UK for a few years to understand more of a world I had (thankfully) not personally experienced.
But seeing it more acutely brought a greater depth to it than I was expecting or had seen before. Immediately I went into ‘try to find a solution and fix it all’ western mode, to very quickly realising I couldn’t (after nearly sending a bunch of emails to people who I thought could potentially help me ‘fix’ the situation). But that realisation didn’t help either because then I just went into depressive ‘why did God create the world in the first place’ mode. And that was quite crippling for a few months.
I prayed and moaned and argued with God and said awful things to him at the same time as I couldn’t fathom or come up with a good enough answer to why this kind of life for people exists, knowing that still I hadn’t seen the worst of it.
Over time I finally started listening to God… Finally giving him a chance to speak over my rants and heart aches. Choosing to listen to him even when I was hurt and annoyed by him. He started feeding me peace in my heart and reminding me of who he foundationally is – he is love. He created this world because of his love for the people. And he said to me that His plan is greater than I can imagine or fathom and that what he has in store for people is so beautiful that it is worth all this pain to get there. Hard to hear and to understand, but choosing to surrender to Him. Then, as I walked around – to every beggar I passed, every story I heard of kids being left or dying of starvation or being killed or whatever, I felt God say ‘these are the ones who will be first in my kingdom’.
This was all going on in its height about a year ago. I was reminded of it today as I read in Matthew 11 about John the Baptist and Jesus talking to his disciples saying that the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk and the poor are hearing the good news.
I stopped for a moment. Wow. The good is the redemption and remedy of the bad. The blind…they can now see. Yes, that is good. What about the poor? Jesus does not say ‘the poor are given wealth’… He says they’re hearing the good news. The remedy for poverty is not earthly wealth or solutions, it’s hearing the good news.
So friends, as the disciples told Paul all those years ago… Do not forget the poor. Let us like Paul be ever so eager to respond – for their remedy is to hear the good news!